Martin Milner and Sally Field in Gidget

The Transgressive Subtext of Teen Surf Movies

Surf movies of the 1950s and 1960s only seemed squeaky-clean. Just beneath the surface was rebellion, rule-bending, and an embrace of the "other."
Artifacts from a 19th century American brothel

What Reformers Learned When They Visited 1830s Brothels

Middle class members of the New York Female Moral Reform Society visited brothels to save women from sin. What they actually encountered surprised them.
Student with practice baby at Cornell University

When Home Ec Classes Borrowed Babies

In the early-to-mid 20th century, foster children in Canada and elsewhere were placed in practice homes and cared for by home economics students.
Lick Observatory

The Women Who Made Male Astronomers’ Ambitions Possible

In the late 19th century, Elizabeth Campbell helped her astronomer husband run the Lick Observatory and lead scientific eclipse-viewing expeditions.
Emily Dickinson

Marketing Emily Dickinson as a Children’s Poet

Some of Emily Dickinson's poems were first published in children's magazines, in what one scholar calls a "marketing ploy gone awry."
An X-Men comic book cover

The Assimilationist Mythology of the X-Men

Stan Lee's X-Men comics explored themes of prejudice and bigotry. So why weren't the original comics that diverse?
Lakeport Plantation, c. 1859 and built south of Lake Village, is the only remaining antebellum plantation house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas.

How the Enslaved People of Arkansas Fought Back

Though there was never a unified uprising that made it into the history books, the enslaved people of Arkansas rebelled and resisted in significant ways.
Robert Reed who played Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch

The “Queer Innocence” of the Brady Bunch

The squeaky-clean Brady Bunch family symbolized the avoidance of the sexual revolution, feminism, and other social forces that were coming to the fore.
Vintage engraving from 1876 of a old victorian haunted house.

How Victorian Mansions Became the Default Haunted House

Quick: Picture a haunted house. It's probably a Victorian mansion, right? Here's how these structures became signifiers of horror, haunting, and death.
Boake Carter

Before Rush Limbaugh, There Was Boake Carter

When Boake Carter opened his mouth, he whipped up tempers and tempests. But who was he?